Gordon Campbell Liberals received $150,000 in political donations from private liquor interests
Vancouver (5 January 2007) - The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) says the latest move by Gordon Campbell's Liberal government to boost subsidies to private liquor stores by 23% is an outrageous giveaway that will cost $20 million in taxpayers’ money.
The move is in addition to lavish handouts already given to private liquor stores. In fact, it is the third time since 2004 that the government has raised the discount rate for the outlets.
By the end of 2007, private liquor interests will have received almost $90 million in handouts from Victoria, says BCGEU president George Heyman.
“That’s money that otherwise could have been used to fund medical procedures, or restore funding that the Liberals cut from vital programs like child protection, legal aid, and women’s centres,” he says.
“It’s another example of the government cutting back room deals with their friends at the expense of funding for important services for British Columbians. Premier Campbell is literally shovelling money out the back of the delivery truck for private operators.”
Favoured hours over Christmas
News of the added bonanza comes less than two weeks after the government’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) cancelled extended holiday openings at public liquor stores. The move was designed to force consumers to patronize private stores — where prices are considerably higher and selection limited — during the busy Christmas-New Year period.
Heyman also demanded that the Campbell government put an end to other unacceptable gifts for private operators including subsidized delivery rates.
“For example, a private liquor store in Vernon pays only $35 to the LDB for their weekly delivery of goods from the government’s distribution centre in Kamloops. But the LDB will pay hundreds of dollars more to the trucking company that makes the actual delivery,” he says. “These kinds of special breaks for private stores have to stop.”
Elections B.C. filings by the B.C. Liberals show that the party received some $150,000 in donations from private liquor interests during the 2005 provincial election campaign.
A 2006 survey by the Consumers Association of Canada found that despite being heavily subsidized by the Campbell government, prices at private liquor stores were up to 35% higher than at public liquor outlets. NUPGE
B.C. Liberals restrict public liquor sales to aid private sellers